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All forms of the Latin verb "FACERE" that went to French had a "c", but it has disappeared in all forms of the French verb "faire".

In FACIS > fais, the "c" completely disappeared.

In FACIUNT > font, the "c" also disappeared.

In FACIAM > fasse, the "c" became "ss".

I have noticed that some of the instances of "c" in the Latin forms are followed by a yod. Perhaps this is the cause of the difference.

However, the "c" in FACIUNT is also followed by a yod, and it also disappeared.

I am seeking an explanation of the evolution of these forms, and I would also prefer to have a step by step evolution of those three selected forms above.

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    c present in French noun façon. Besides we can't really say it has disappeared entirely from all forms of faire. Faire is a very irregular verb and lots of its present conjugated forms has either an /s/ or /z/ sound which most probably originates from Latin letter c . I think it's the same with Italian verb fare. Probably some food for thought on that page - in French. – Laure Aug 1 '16 at 8:35
  • Do you have evidence that fasse derives from faciam? Because I would expect that it comes from a different form - possibly the pluperfect subjunctive facissem. – Colin Fine Aug 1 '16 at 22:00
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    @ColinFine The Old French form is "face" which highly hints at "faciam". After the c-ss merger, it it basically pronounced the same as a hypothetical *fasse. The exact reason they chose fasse instead of face is beyond me. – Kenny Lau Aug 2 '16 at 1:28
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    I would expect facissem to give faisse instead of fasse, but the pluperfect subjunctive is fecissem instead of facissem. Perhaps you mean it was changed to facissem due to normalization. In this case I believe it did not happen. fisse < fecissem is not unexpected. – Kenny Lau Aug 2 '16 at 1:30
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    @Laure Re "c present in French noun façon": that word actually comes from the Latin word "FACTIONEM", so the "c" is from the "ti" instead of from the "c": FACTIONEM /faktionɛ̃/ > /fatʲone/ > /fat͡son/ façon (O.Fr.) > /fasɔ̃/ (Fr.) – Kenny Lau Aug 5 '16 at 9:11
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Well, I don't actually know much about the history of this, but I think the page Laure found "Le verbe faire" has some useful information that ought to be put in an answer. The translations from the French are by me, with help from Laure and TKR (there may still remain some errors I've made that they haven't caught).

It says:

Faz

En ancien français, les désinences des verbes en -kio et en -tio se palatalisent en une affriquée ts, par l'étape gy, ty. Elle se réduit ensuite en z ou s.

"In Old French, the endings of the verbs in -kio and -tio were palatalized, yielding an affricate ts, by the stage gy, ty. This then reduced to z or s."


I think there are various examples of this sound change in other contexts, such as the noun face which CNRTL says is from V. Latin *facia.

Fais, fait

Contrairement à ce que l'on pourrait s'imaginer, ces deux formes sont déjà analogiques en ancien français. On aurait dû obtenir *faiz et *faist. Le problème est identique à celui de dire et de duire. Les formes du pluriel seraient elles aussi analogiques.

"Contrary to what one might imagine, these two forms are already analogical in Old French. We should have gotten *faiz and *faist. The problem is the same as that of dire and duire. The plural forms must also be analogical."

Font

La formation en ancien français repose sur l'effacement de k intervocalique devant u. Il faut supposer la forme vulgaire *facunt pour faciunt, contrairement aux personnes précédentes. De *facunt on passe à *faunt avec accentuation sur a qui forme une diphtongue au, laquelle se simplifie en o à date prélittéraire, puis se nasalise avant le XIIe s. L'évolution est similaire à celle de *vadunt > vont, *habunt > ont. Mais elle n'est pas comparable à celle de sunt > sont.

"The formation in Old French is based on the erasure of intervocalic k before u. We must suppose the vulgar form *facunt for faciunt, contrary to the forms for the preceding grammatical persons. From *facunt we pass to *faunt with accentuation on the a which forms a diphthong au, which simplifies to o at a pre-literary period, then nasalizes before the twelfth century. The evolution is similar to that of *vadunt > vont, *habunt > ont. But it is not comparable to that of sunt > sont."


So "font" is not thought to come directly from Latin faciunt.

  • "Personnes précédentes" presumably means the first and second persons. – TKR Aug 24 '16 at 2:20

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